CIPFA calls for the Barnett formula to be scrapped to deliver fairer funding for the Northern Ireland Assembly


The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has submitted evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel on the operation of the Barnett Formula as part of their review into the current funding system.

CIPFA has proposed several suggestions to modernise Central Government’s distribution of funding to Northern Ireland and to the rest of the UK, these were:

  • Withdrawal of the Barnett Formula in its present format and replaced with a mechanism linked with tax devolution which will support equitable and sustainable public services in Northern Ireland and across the UK.   
  • Any new mechanism for resource allocation should be principles based on four simple principles of need, equity, accountability and transparency.   
  • The resource allocation process should be depoliticised and be overseen by a commission independent of government.

Head of CIPFA’s Devolved Government, Don Peebles commented on CIPFA’s evidence said:

“What was implemented as a short-term approach to devolving funding in the late 1970s has been used as long-term formula despite it being no longer fit for purpose. CIPFA has called for a replacement of the Barnett Formula and our submission to the Northern Ireland Assembly states clearly that it must be replaced.

“Within the evidence we have given we have suggested that a mechanism linked with tax devolution, that would support sustainable and equitable public services, should be implemented. This should be underpinned by a principles based approach that focuses on: need, equity, accountability and transparency.

“CIPFA has also recommended that an Independent Funding Commission should be established to oversee and advise on methodologies and decisions on funding, this would remove the process from the political stage to encourage more transparent and sustainable decision making.”


Notes to editors

A copy of CIPFA's submission is available online


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, we champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.